It all started in the forests of Brazil.
The timber was chosen, chopped, and sailed across the ocean, only to be turned into one of the most popular materials for string instruments in the world.
Fourth-year St. Thomas University student Johnny Cullen, guitar player for the band Rosewood Groove, recently came into ownership of a guitar that had this kind of wood, known as rosewood, in its fretboard.
While he originally thought this wood was exotic, even mystical, his bandmates had an important newsflash for him – a huge number of instruments are made of rosewood.
“I named the guitar ‘rose’ after that,” Cullen said, laughing.
The journalism student doesn’t forget how this story influenced the name for the four-person band he now plays in. For him, it’s good for the band, made-up mostly of St. Thomas students. They’re just a group of friends who want to jam and get their music out there.
“We all play off each other really well,” said Cullen. “With these guys behind my voice I can just kind of go for it and I know no matter what they’ll come up with a sweet riff or some crazy vocal harmonies in the background.”
Both an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, a mandolin and some drums make up Rosewood Groove – vocals are interchangeable.
Fellow STU student Austin Comeau, first-year student Ryan Merritt and friend Colin Matheson started jamming with Cullen earlier this summer. They had been playing together for a while, then finally did an open mic show. A friend soon approached the band saying they should start doing gigs.
This led to their first show at Ringo’s Bar and Grill in Fredericton, with almost a full-house audience. Since then they’ve also played at the Capital Complex in downtown Fredericton, with equal enthusiasm for their stuff.
Their sound is folky and confident – Cullen croons to melodic, drawling acoustic pieces sparked by the emotion of Comeau’s mandolin. Their sound is influenced by artists like The Mighty Oaks and Neil Young, to name a few.
“Our sets are pretty much what we would do if we were just sitting here hanging out, having a beer. We don’t add much flare to it – we play just as we would hanging out as buddies,” said Comeau.
Even though an album isn’t quite in the works yet, the band has plans to continue writing up new material – their show at Ringo’s is on Dec. 5. Their style is original and their work doesn’t need high quality production to sound good – they’re just four guys who like to jam in their bedroom and try to do their best in the process.
“As long as we’re having fun and people are enjoying our music, that summarizes us – jamming and having fun,” said Cullen.
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